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Made-in-China Quality Is Not Good Enough, Lexus Says

  • Import duties make Lexus cars pricier in China than BMW, Audi
  • U.S. plant became No. 2 Lexus factory outside Japan last month
An employee inspects the paint finish of a Lexus NX SUV at the Miyata plant in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lexus has long prided itself for home-grown craftsmanship, with artisans on Japan assembly lines donning white gloves and honing years of factory experience before being entrusted to handle final inspections.

An employee inspects the paint finish of a Lexus NX SUV at the Miyata plant in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lexus has long prided itself for home-grown craftsmanship, with artisans on Japan assembly lines donning white gloves and honing years of factory experience before being entrusted to handle final inspections.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
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Car buyers in China may have to wait decades before Toyota Motor Corp. begins producing Lexus luxury cars locally, as the world’s largest automaker wagers they’ll favor made-in-Japan vehicles as a guarantee of quality.

While BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi all manufacture in China, Lexus has stuck to shipping finished models from Japan, incurring import taxes that make its offerings more costly. The brand remains a holdout from building locally despite indications of significant improvement in China’s auto manufacturing credentials.